The Voices Fellowship Program that was developed for young adults between the ages of 20-32 and which deals with issues related to the State of Israel, Jewish values and social justice. The program was founded by the Department’s shlicha in North America, Tova Birnbaum, together with Ameinu, AZM and BINA. The Program invites the participants to a series of seven mifgashim of lectures and discussions, with the focus on the discourse on Israel as seen by the Jewish-American community and how it can be influenced to participate, as part of the social responsibility, in shaping Israel’s Jewish and social character.
Last spring two groups of Voices Fellowship were run simultaneously – in New York and Philadelphia. Last February the second cycle of the group was started in New York. The group is comprised of 15 participants that went through a substantial screening process. This year’s program is being run in collaboration with the “B'nai Jeshurun” community in Manhattan and with Columbia University. The meetings are held once every two weeks and during February the first two meetings were held: at the introductory meeting a presentation specifying the core issues of the program was presented and a discourse was conducted on the participants’ personal vision of these issues and how they perceive the role of American Jews in relation to these issues.
At the second meeting Prof. Steven Cohen, a sociologist and one of the leading researchers today in the study of the Jewish community in North America, delivered a lecture. The lecture discussed the trends and processes that the Jewish community of North America has gone through over the past two decades and their significance in regard to the attitude toward Israel in the different communities. After the lecture there was a lively discussion about the different influences on the attitudes toward Israel within the Jewish communities in North America and on Israel-Diaspora relations as they would like to see them.
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